Crash is a 2004 crime drama film produced, directed, and co-written by Paul Haggis. A self-described "passion piece" for Haggis, the film features racial and social tensions in Los Angeles and was inspired by a real-life incident in which Haggis's Porsche was carjacked in 1991 outside a video store on Wilshire Boulevard. The film features an ensemble cast, including Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle (who also worked as a producer on the film), Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, William Fichtner, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Thandiwe Newton, Michael Peña, and Ryan Phillippe.
|Directed by||Paul Haggis|
|Story by||Paul Haggis|
|Cinematography||J. Michael Muro|
|Edited by||Hughes Winborne|
|Music by||Mark Isham|
|Distributed by||Lions Gate Films (United States)|
Universum Film (Germany)
|Box office||$98.4 million|
Crash first premiered at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2004, before it was released in theaters on May 6, 2005, by Lions Gate Films. The film received positive reviews from critics, who praised the direction and performances (particularly Dillon's), but criticized the portrayal of race relations as simplistic and unsubtle. The film was a success at the box office, earning $98.4 million worldwide against its $6.5 million budget.
The film earned several accolades and nominations. Dillon received nominations for Best Supporting Actor from the Academy Awards, BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild. Additionally, the cast won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. The film received six Academy Award nominations, and controversially won three for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing at the 78th Academy Awards. It was also nominated for nine BAFTA Awards and won two, for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Newton.
In Los Angeles, Detective Graham Waters and his partner Ria are involved in a minor collision with a car being driven by Kim Lee. A subsequent exchange of racially-charged insults occurs. Waters later arrives at a crime scene, where the body of a "dead kid" has been discovered.
Anthony and Peter carjack District Attorney Rick Cabot and his wife Jean. As the men drive away, they see Waters and Ria investigating the death of a man killed by Detective Conklin. Conklin claims he fired in self-defense, but Waters and Ria discover that the man he shot was a fellow officer.
At home, Cabot rails that the car-jacking incident could cost him re-election, because no matter whom he sides with, he will lose either the black vote or the law and order vote. Hispanic locksmith Daniel Ruiz overhears Jean, who suspects that Daniel is a gangster, demanding that the locks be changed again.
Sergeant John Ryan and his partner, Officer Tom Hansen, pull over a SUV driven by director Cameron Thayer and his wife Christine after she appears to perform fellatio on Cameron while he is driving; Ryan molests Christine during the stop.
Hansen goes to his superior to report Ryan's conduct and requests a transfer. The superior officer berates Hansen, knowing that upsetting the department's status quo will tarnish his career, despite the obstacles he has had to overcome to reach the higher ranks of the LAPD.
In the carjacked SUV, Anthony and Peter hit Lee's husband while passing a parked van. They dump him in front of a hospital and drive away.
Waters, while having sex with Ria, gets a phone call from his mother, which leads to an argument about Ria's ethnicity. Waters later visits his mother, who asks him to find his missing younger brother.
Ryan comes across a car crash and finds Christine trapped in an overturned vehicle. Recognizing Ryan, she resists frantically, but he pulls her out just before the car explodes.
Waters is summoned to a meeting with DA worker Flanagan, who tells Waters that Internal Affairs has discovered that Conklin has two prior suspicious shootings. Waters informs Flanagan that he and Ria have discovered that the officer was driving someone else's car with $300,000 in it, possibly from a drug deal. Flanagan insinuates that if Waters cooperates in helping to prosecute detective Conklin, the DA will appoint Waters as his chief investigator and clear Waters' brother's criminal record. At the ensuing press conference, Waters reluctantly agrees that, given the evidence, Conklin was likely a racist cop.
Anthony and Peter carjack another Navigator, which happens to be Cameron's; a police chase ensues. Hansen, one of the pursuing officers, vouches for Cameron to be let off with a warning.
Hansen picks up a hitchhiking Peter, who offends Hansen by suddenly laughing; when Peter reaches for his pocket, Hansen shoots. Peter collapses dead, revealing a statuette of Saint Christopher, the patron saint of travelers, similar to the one on Hansen's dash. Hansen hides the body in some bushes and burns his car. Waters and Ria later arrive at the scene, revealed at the beginning of the film. Waters realizes that Peter is both his missing brother and the "dead kid". Waters's mother disowns him over Peter's death.
Anthony decides to sell the van of Lee's husband, but when he drops it off at a chop shop, he discovers Cambodian immigrants chained in the back; He was a human trafficker. The chop shop owner offers Anthony $500 per immigrant, but Anthony refuses. He drives the Cambodians to Chinatown and frees them. Anthony passes by a fender-bender. One driver turns out to be the insurance adjuster Ryan had previously argued with, and the other is an Asian man. An exchange of racially-charged insults occurs.
- Sandra Bullock as Jean Cabot, Rick's wife
- Don Cheadle as Detective Graham Waters, a black officer investigating recent murders based on racial tensions
- Matt Dillon as Sergeant John Ryan, a bigoted police officer
- Jennifer Esposito as Ria, Graham's Hispanic partner
- Brendan Fraser as District Attorney Rick Cabot, Jean's husband
- Terrence Howard as Cameron Thayer, a television director and Christine's husband
- Ludacris as Anthony, a violent carjacker and Peter's partner
- Thandiwe Newton (credited as Thandie Newton) as Christine Thayer, Cameron's wife
- Michael Peña as Daniel Ruiz, a Hispanic locksmith
- Ryan Phillippe as Officer Tom Hansen, a rookie policeman and Ryan's partner
- Larenz Tate as Peter, a laid back carjacker, and Anthony's partner
- Shaun Toub as Farhad, a Persian shop owner
- Bahar Soomekh as Dorri, Farhad's daughter
- Ashlyn Sanchez as Lara Ruiz, Daniel's daughter
- Karina Arroyave as Elizabeth Ruiz, Daniel's wife
- Loretta Devine as Shaniqua Johnson, a HMO administrator
- Beverly Todd as Mrs. Waters
- William Fichtner as Jake Flanagan, Rick's campaign manager
- Keith David as Lieutenant Dixon, Tom's superior officer
- Jack McGee as Gun Store Owner
- Greg Joung Paik as Choi Chin Gui, a human trafficker
- Alexis Rhee as Kim Lee, Choi Chin Gui's wife
- Daniel Dae Kim as Park
- Nona Gaye as Karen
- Bruce Kirby as 'Pop' Ryan
- Tony Danza as Fred
- Kathleen York as Officer Johnson
- Sylva Kelegian as Nurse Hodges
- Marina Sirtis as Shereen, Farhad's wife
Writer and director Paul Haggis was inspired to make the film after being carjacked by two African-American men at a Blockbuster Video on Wilshire Boulevard while driving home from the premiere of The Silence of the Lambs in February 1991. Afterwards he began thinking more about the impact of race, ethnicity, and class in American society. He later stated that he wrote Crash not simply to criticize racists but to "bust liberals" for the idea that the United States had become a post-racial society.
Haggis cowrote the first draft of Crash with Robert Moresco in 2001 after being fired from Family Law. He initially tried to sell it to television producers before Bob Yari gave him $10 million to produce it as a film on the condition he could assemble an ensemble cast of major stars. He cast Heath Ledger and John Cusack in the film, and asked John Travolta and Kelly Preston to appear as Rick and Jean Cabot. However, Ledger and Cusack dropped out, and afterward, Haggis withdrew his offer to Travolta and Preston. Don Cheadle also considered leaving the production to perform in Hotel Rwanda.
Haggis managed to convince Cathy Schulman to continue the film with a lower budget after casting Sandra Bullock as Jean Cabot. Haggis made up for the reduced budget by taking out three mortgages on his house and cutting back on exterior shots, shooting using mostly sets from Monk. The production was delayed by a week when Haggis suffered from cardiac arrest while filming a scene, although he defied medical advice to hire a new director.
In a 2020 interview with Vulture, Thandiwe Newton stated that Haggis ensured she was wearing special protective underwear for the police sexual assault scene, because he wanted it to look "real" from the camera's perspective for Matt Dillon "to go there".
After a rough cut was shown at 2004 Toronto International Film Festival, the film premiered at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto in September 2004. It was quickly purchased by Lions Gate Films for $3.5 million. Crash had a wide release on May 6, 2005, and was a box office success in the late spring of 2005. The film had a budget of $6.5 million (plus $1 million in financing). Because of the financial constraints, director Haggis filmed in his own house, borrowed a set from the TV show Monk, used his car in parts of the film, and even used cars from other staff members.
The film grossed $53.4 million domestically, making back more than seven times its budget. Despite its success in relation to its cost, Crash was the lowest-grossing film at the domestic box office to win Best Picture since The Last Emperor in 1987.
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 74% based on 242 reviews, with an average score of 7.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A raw and unsettling morality piece on modern angst and urban disconnect, Crash examines the dangers of bigotry and xenophobia in the lives of interconnected Angelenos." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 66 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert gave the film four out of four stars and described it as "a movie of intense fascination", listing it as the best film of 2005. The film also ranks at #460 in Empire's 2008 poll of the "500 Greatest Films of All Time".
Some later reviews of Crash have been less favorable. Cultural critic Ta-Nehisi Coates criticized the film as shallow and "unthinking", naming Crash "the worst film of the decade". The film has been critiqued for depicting the Persian shopkeeper as a "deranged, paranoid individual who is only redeemed by what he believes is a mystical act of God." The film has also been criticized for using multicultural and sentimentalist imagery to cover over material and "historically sedimented inequalities" that continue to affect different racial groups in Los Angeles.
Top ten listsEdit
Crash was listed on many critics' top ten lists.
- 1st – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
- 1st – Steve Davis, Austin Chronicle
- 3rd – Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
- 3rd – Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper
- 3rd – Ella Taylor, L.A. Weekly
- 4th – Stephen Hunter, The Washington Post
- 6th – Christy Lemire, Associated Press
- 7th – Claudia Puig, USA Today
- 8th – Richard Schickel, Time
- 8th – Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
- 9th – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Crash won the Best Picture Oscar at the 78th Academy Awards. The film's use of moral quandary as a storytelling medium was widely reported as ironic, since many saw it as the "safe" alternative to Brokeback Mountain, which was about a gay relationship. Critic Kenneth Turan suggested that Crash benefited from anti-gay discomfort among Academy members, while critic Roger Ebert believed that the better film won the award.
Film Comment magazine placed Crash first on its list of "Worst Winners of Best Picture Oscars", followed by Slumdog Millionaire at #2, and Chicago at #3. Similarly, a 2014 survey of film critics by The Atlantic identified the film's victory as among the most glaring mistakes made by the Academy Awards.
In 2015, The Hollywood Reporter polled hundreds of Academy members, asking them to re-vote on past controversial decisions. For the 2006 Best Picture winner, Brokeback Mountain beat Crash and the other nominees.
In a 2015 interview, Paul Haggis commented: "Was [Crash] the best film of the year? I don't think so. There were great films that year. Good Night, and Good Luck – amazing film. Capote – terrific film. Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, great film. And Spielberg's Munich. I mean please, what a year. Crash, for some reason, affected people, it touched people. And you can't judge these films like that. I'm very glad to have those Oscars. They're lovely things. But you shouldn't ask me what the best film of the year was because I wouldn't be voting for Crash, only because I saw the artistry that was in the other films. Now however, for some reason that's the film that touched people the most that year. So I guess that's what they voted for, something that really touched them. And I'm very proud of the fact that Crash does touch you. People still come up to me more than any of my films and say: 'That film just changed my life.' I've heard that dozens and dozens and dozens of times. So it did its job there. I mean, I knew it was the social experiment that I wanted, so I think it's a really good social experiment. Is it a great film? I don't know".
Crash received several award and nominations, and was named one of the top ten films of the year by both the American Film Institute and the National Board of Review. The film was nominated for six awards at the 78th Academy Awards and won three, for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing. It was also nominated for nine British Academy Film Awards and won two, for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress for Newton. Dillon received nominations for best supporting actor at the Academy Awards, British Academy Film Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and Screen Actors Guild Awards for his performance. Additionally, the cast won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, and Harris and Moresco won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay.
All songs were written and composed by Mark Isham, except where noted. The original score was released through labels Gut and Colosseum in 2005. The iTunes release is the complete score released through Yari Music Group, and has the cues isolated and in film order (unlike the commercial score CD which is edited, incomplete, in a different order, and in suite form).
|2.||"Go Forth My Son"||0:57|
|3.||"Hands in Plain Sight"||3:48|
|5.||"No Such Things as Monsters"||3:59|
|6.||"Find My Baby"||4:23|
|10.||"A Really Good Cloak"||3:28|
|11.||"A Harsh Warning"||2:51|
|13.||"Sense of Touch"||6:44|
|14.||"In the Deep"||Performed by Bird York; Co-written by Kathleen York and Michael Becker||5:55|
|15.||"Maybe Tomorrow"||Performed by Stereophonics; written by Kelly Jones||4:34|
iTunes version (complete score)Edit
|2.||""We've Got Guns""||1:00|
|3.||"Black Navigator / The Grope"||5:05|
|6.||"Back to the Toilet"||1:34|
|7.||""Your Father Sounds Like a Good Man""||4:22|
|9.||"Cameron – Receipt"||2:23|
|12.||"Car Jack II"||1:46|
|13.||""I Didn't Ask for Your Help""||2:51|
|14.||""You Embarrass Me""||1:24|
|17.||"Illegals / Morgue"||6:43|
The soundtrack's title is Crash: Music from and Inspired by the Film.
|2.||"Plastic Jesus"||Billy Idol||4:49|
|3.||"Are You Beautiful"||Chris Pierce||2:52|
|5.||"Hey God"||Randy Coleman||4:04|
|6.||"Take the Pain Away"||Al Berry||4:19|
|8.||"Arrival"||Pale 3/Beth Hirsch||5:08|
|9.||"Acedia (The Noonday Demon)"||Quinn||3:00|
|10.||"In the Deep"||Bird York||3:48|
Note: The country song playing during the carjacking scene is "Whiskey Town" by Moot Davis. Also, the song playing on the car radio when Ludacris's character starts ranting about hip hop music being regressive is "Str8UpNDown" by Move.meant. Plus, the song playing on the car radio when the hitchhiker is picked up is "Swinging Doors" by Merle Haggard.
Crash was released on DVD on September 6, 2005, in widescreen and fullscreen one-disc versions, with a number of bonus features, including a music video by KansasCali (now known as the Rocturnals) for the song "If I..." from the soundtrack. The director's cut of the film was released in a two-disc special edition DVD on April 4, 2006, with more bonus content than the one-disc set. The director's cut is three minutes longer than the theatrical cut. The scene where Daniel is talking with his daughter under her bed is extended and a new scene is added with officer Hansen in the police station locker room.
The film also was released in a limited edition VHS version. It was the last film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture to be released in VHS format. It was also the first Best Picture winner to be released on Blu-ray Disc in the US, on June 27, 2006.
A 13-episode series premiered on the Starz network on October 17, 2008. The series features Dennis Hopper as a record producer in Los Angeles, California, and how his life is connected to other characters in the city, including a police officer (Ross McCall) and his partner, actress-turned-police officer, Arlene Tur. The cast consists of a Brentwood mother (Clare Carey), her real-estate developer husband (D. B. Sweeney), a former gang member-turned-EMT (Brian Tee), a street-smart driver (Jocko Sims), an undocumented Guatemalan immigrant (Luis Chavez), and a detective (Nick Tarabay).
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When Haggis and his then-wife were accosted at gunpoint 10 years ago, the experience never left him.
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